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Home » Hacking News » Windows WiFi laptops open for exploit

Windows WiFi laptops open for exploit

by Nikola Strahija on January 19th, 2006 Mark Loveless, a security researcher at Nomad Mobile Research Centre, recently dicsoveread a flaw in Windows WiFi managment. He named the flaw "configuration error". It allows malicious attackers to take advantage of Windows laptops with Wi-Fi capabilities, opening up their hard drives.

According to Loveless, when a laptop has been connected to an ad-hoc network it can later begin advertising that ad-hoc network's SSID identifier without the user's knowledge, giving those nearby the opportunity to carry out an attack.

-In theory all kinds of information could be siphoned off, but that depends on either a secondary vulnerability (such as MS05-039 patch not being applied), a lack of a personal firewall, or open shares. Granted, when I found a machine vulnerable to the wireless flaw, I usually found one of those secondary issues as well, but the vast majority of laptops were not vulnerable to the wireless flaw in the first place, he said.

While the bug sounds unlikely in theory, in practice Loveless frequently came across vulnerable laptops in airports and on planes. -My whole point is that for the bored and idle hacker waiting for a flight or stuck on a commuter train, there are probably unsuspecting vulnerable targets nearby. And activation of the flaw actually "spreads" from vulnerable system to system, which makes it interesting, he added.

Loveless contacted Microsoft about the bug in mid-October, and the company has confirmed the issue. Windows 2000 with SP 2, SP 3 and SP 4, Windows XP Home Edition Gold, Windows XP Professional Gold, Windows XP with SP1 and SP2, and Windows 2003 are all vulnerable.

Loveless recommends switching Windows' Wireless Network Connection settings to "Access point (infrastructure) networks only", which will disable the ad-hoc networking feature. Other workarounds include disabling wireless when not in use and using a different Wireless Client Manager.

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